A New Way to Look at Stenciling

Stenciling is no longer reserved for accenting moldings. Try covering an entire room in delicate stencils applied with muted tones. The results are stunning and wallpaper-esque, with the added bonus that you can paint over it if you want to change it later.

If you have the time and the desire to outfit a room with knockout style, then this paint project is for you. Begin by making your own stencil. Then cover the wall in the pattern with several layers of paint. Though the application might take a bit of planning, it's really is just a three-part process: Stencil through the pattern layers, add a few hand-painted details, then finish with a glaze wash.

What You Need

  • Benjamin Moore paint: White Down (WD) #OC131
  • Stencil plastic
  • Permanent felt-tip marker
  • Electric stencil cutter or razor-blade knife
  • Rubbing alcohol and soft cloth
  • Plaid Folk Art crafts paints: Barn Wood (BW) #936, Black Cherry (BC) #224, Dark Plum (DP) #469, Light Gray (LG) #424
  • Neutral Wall Glaze (NWG) #53551
  • Painter's tape
  • Palm roller
  • Palm stencil brush
  • Brushes: 5/8-inch round stencil brush, #8 and #12 flat artist's brushes, Plaid Enterprises French brush #30122
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Large cloth
  • Plaid Enterprises Wall Weaver #30112
  • Stencil of your choosing to use as a pattern


  1. Prep the walls, and paint with WD. Let dry.
  2. Photocopy the stencil, enlarging it to the desired size. If necessary, tape together paper to create the entire pattern. Decide where bridges will go on the stencil.
  3. Place the transparent stencil plastic over the pattern and trace with a permanent marker. Place the stencil plastic over a glass surface and cut out the stencil with an electric stencil cutter or razor-blade knife. Soak a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe over the cut lines to remove traces of marker, which might otherwise smear your wall.
  4. Make additional photocopies of your pattern, and determine placement on the wall. Start the pattern at the focal point of the room and work up, down, and out from there. This pattern starts at the top and repeats with very little clearance between the stencils. When you've determined placement, mark the stencil with the registration requirements so that each time the stencil is lifted, you'll know how far away to place the next stencil.
  5. Mix the stencil paint colors with glaze to create stencil paint. Use 1/2-1 ounce NWG for each 2-ounce bottle of LG and BW. Note: If you choose darker colors, you may need to use more glaze to lighten the intensity.
  6. Tape the first overlay onto the wall with painter's tape, then loosely and quickly roll LG onto the stencil using the palm roller. In tight corners, use the 5/8-inch stencil brush to apply the paint. Remove stencil, place at next registration mark, and repeat, stenciling the entire surface with this overlay before continuing.
  7. Tape the second stencil overlay onto the wall, quickly rolling with BW using the palm roller. Remove the stencil, place at the next registration mark, and repeat, stenciling the entire surface with this overlay before continuing. Repeat with remaining overlays.
  8. Mix watercolors for flower details. Combine 1 ounce DP with 1 ounce NWG and 1/2 ounce water. Also mix 1 ounce BC with 1 ounce NWG and 1/2 ounce water.
  9. Use the #8 flat brush to create petals on the large flowers with the BC watercolor mixture. Stroke firmly at first, pulling the brush up and away from the wall to create a gradually lightening shade for each petal within the flower shape of the stencil. Overlay the petals as they would appear on a real flower. Work quickly, hitting with the brush and lifting at the end of each stroke.
  10. Use the #12 flat brush to create petals on the small flowers with the DP watercolor mixture. Repeat as in step 9, hitting the brush firmly on the wall at first, easing away as the petal forms, and overlaying the petals to create the flower.
  11. When paint has fully dried, use 220-grit sandpaper to lightly sand either the whole wall or spots, depending on how muted you want the result to be. The less perfect the outcome, the more vintage and hand-painted the stenciling will appear. Clean dust from wall with a large cloth.
  12. Mix a 48-ounce tub of NWG with 4 ounces LG and 4 ounces BW to create a glaze wash. Test on a sample board. To achieve the desired hue, add color to deepen; add glaze to lighten.
  13. Apply the glaze using the Wall Weaver to stroke it onto the wall in a vertical motion. Work quickly to keep the glaze from becoming blotchy, applying it over the entire design. Stroke the Wall Weaver in one fluid motion, with no stopping and starting, and flare it out as you go by removing it gradually from the wall. Use the French brush to spread the glaze in tight areas and corners.


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